Mental health: 6 Tips On What To Do When Your Partner Has Stopped Taking Their Medication But Refuses To Acknowledge That They Are Becoming Unwell.

As a partner of someone who has been dependent upon medication for good mental health, it can be challenging if not ‘scary', to be a witness to their choice to withdraw from that same medication. This is more so the case when your partner has come to this decision without consulting their professional health practitioner . You have  experienced the ‘roller-coaster' ride of their declining mental health; your partner's unpredictable behaviour, the accompanying decline of their physical health, the negative impact on their employment, the additional pressure upon your couple relationship and the negative impact upon other family members. You are  familiar with the feeling of relief  when your partner's mental health has improved, due at least in part, to the introduction of a particular medication.

All of these memories come flooding back as you observe your partner's withdrawal from the very medication that had once been ‘the Hero' of the situation. The doubt, uncertainty and helplessness you feel is reinforced by the small but undeniable signs you observe, of your partner's deteriorating mental health. Your partner's denial of such symptoms I_love_green_blossom____by_captivatedimagesfurther exacerbates  your anxiety, effectively positioning you as caretaker in your relationship.

Here are 6 tips on what to do when your partner has stopped taking their medication but refuses to acknowledge that they are becoming unwell.

1. Assess their level of suicidality

Often people do not disclose that they are experiencing thoughts of suicidality unless they are asked directly. If your partner admits to having such thoughts, it is important that they talk to a health professional about what they are experiencing. If your partner has a trusted health professional, a doctor, counsellor, or psychiatrist, encourage them to check in with that professional. Remind your partner that talking  to their health professional does not mean they have to go back on the medication (though that may be an outcome) but is in itself a therapeutic intervention to cope with what they are experiencing.
 If your partner acknowledges that they are having thoughts of suicide, check out the following:
– do they have a plan as to how they would suicide?
– do they have the means at their disposal?
– have they made other suicide attempts?
– has someone close to them suicided?
– are they at risk to themselves or others?
If they answer ‘yes' to at least 2 of these questions, it is important that they see a health professional as soon as possible.

2.  Calmly share your concerns and invite them to talk about their own concerns

Often when an individual goes off their medication without consulting their health practitioner, they are unlikely to notice the minor changes to their thoughts and behaviour. Talking to them about your concerns and encouraging your partner to become more familiar with, and able to acknowledge the consequences of being unwell may serve to raise their level of awareness. Some of the consequences might include their unavailability to your children or being unable to work. Write these down as future reference. (If your partner remains in denial, be kind and gentle and encourage them to remain open to the conversation)

3. Make a ‘contract' with your partner

Make a written Contract or agreement with your partner to identify the point at which they agree to take personal responsibility to seek out their health professional.
This conversation would include:
  • early warning symptoms that your partner might experience ( as point above)
  • identifying the point at which these symptoms are no longer tolerable for themselves and/or for others.

 4. Encourage your partner to use self care strategies 

Learning to put into practice those activities that soothe and calm a person is one of the keys to maintaining good mental health. When considering what soothes your partner, encourage them to explore with all 5 senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Finding something small that they can carry with them so that they can access at any time (e.g. a grandmother's scented handkerchief) is a  great way to self soothe when needed.

5. Be encouraging

It is very easy to project your anxiety and /or frustration upon your partner. This can have the affect of your partner developing negative mental health symptoms that might otherwise fail to emerge.
For instance, when your anxiety tells you that your partner is undoubtedly going to regress rapidly, failing to get out of bed on time one morning because they are feeling tired, can be misinterpreted  by you as a sign that they are becoming depressed again. This may or may not be the case. The important thing to note is that by anticipating the worst scenario, your partner is more likely to ‘collude' by accepting your statement rather than acknowledging other possibilities (eg. ‘I just feel tired this morning'; ‘I didn't sleep well and need a catch up'; ‘self-care for me includes the occasional sleep in')

6. Deal with your own anxiety

If you have followed all these suggestions and remain anxious, seek out a professional counsellor to talk about your own concerns.

If you would like to know more about how to support someone experiencing mental health issues or need personal support in coping with a partner with mental health issues  contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

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